Five Ways to Rig Live Mullet

How to rig live mullet five different ways for a number of saltwater species.
Steve Kantner
Live mullet make for a durable and irresistible bait when targeting a number of saltwater predators. Catching live mullet is relatively easy if you're adept at throwing a cast net, especially when massive schools of black and silver mullet blacken the waters off Florida's east coast every fall. Live mullet can be free-lined, slow-trolled or fished under kites. Here are five popular ways to rig a live mullet.
When using live mullet to target tackle-shy species, many anglers free-line, drift or slow-troll the baits using monofilament or fluorocarbon leaders. One of the most popular ways to hook a bait in these situations is to push a forged ring-eye hook through the indent or "sweet spot" just inside the mullet's upper jaw. Match the size of your hook to that of the bait, and choose the leader size accordingly, with 60- to 100-pound mono being standard.
Mullet can also be hooked behind the ventral fin, especially when fished with a weight. Drive the hook through the hard cartilage above and behind the fin, but not too deep. Capt. Andy Novak, owner of LMR Tackle in Ft. Lauderdale, prefers this method. "I fish them this way with a sinker, so they're constantly trying to swim off the bottom where the snook are," he says.
When trolling live mullet for sharp-toothed predators like kingfish and wahoo, use #7 to #9 wire and a second trailer hook. This rig is fully adjustable and easily sized to the bait. Insert the main hook through the upper jaw, then prick the trailer hook through one side of the mullet's back, just barely through the skin. Adjust the shank so the point rides up. Allow for plenty of slack so the bait can swim freely. This rig is IGFA legal as long as both hooks are singles and both are imbedded in the bait.
Some fishermen use a variation of the trailer rig when chasing kingfish. This "Ha-Ha Rig" employs a lead hook embedded in the bait's upper lip, nostrils, or collar, while an extra-strength treble is attached to a short stinger wire and allowed to dangle. When a smoker king attempts to cut a bait in half, the treble nails him. At least one organization --the Southern Kingfish Association -- permits the use of trebles in their tournaments but the IGFA does not, and it pays to know the rules if you're hunting for world records.
Live mullet are deadly when dangled from a kite, which often involves bridling the bait. Make a 3-inch loop in a length of waxed thread or Dentotape, and loop it around the bend of a circle hook. Use a bait needle to run the rigging thread beneath the mullet's dorsal and out the opposite side. Catch the loop with the point of the hook and spin the hook a few times. Now, catch the loop again, against the bait's body, so the gape of the hook points upwards just above the mullet's back.

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